What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Posts about Parks and recreation

W. 36th Street bikeway nears construction

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: August 1, 2014 - 3:51 PM

The city is nearing construction of its first protected on-street two-way bike lane, and an adjoining pedestrian lane, on the south side of W. 36th Street next to Lakewood Cemetery,

Construction should begin in the next 30 days on the planned improvement that connects two sections of parkway -- Lake Calhoun and King's Highway.

The nine-block-long segment will feature two five-foot-wide bike lanes, and a six-foot-wide walkway where no sidewalk now exists next to the cemetery.

The bike lanes will be separated from the adjacent eastbound traffic lane by a three-foot buffer strip containing lightweight plastic bollards. More conventional bikes lanes are expected to be extended from King's Highway, where the protection will end, for two additional blocks east to Bryant Avenue.  

Access between the new bike-pedestrian facility and bike and pedestrian paths at Lake Calhoun will be in two stages across 36th and E. Calhoun Parkway

The project cost of $110,900 is being split by the city and by Hennepin County, which is working to fill gaps in bike routes.

Minnehaha Park opens two new play areas, increases accessibility

Posted by: Liz Sawyer Updated: July 31, 2014 - 5:42 PM

Minnehaha Falls Regional Park held a grand opening for two new play areas Thursday, one of which marked the first universally accessible playground in the Minneapolis park system.

The universal access play area, located at the Waburn Picnic Area, includes significantly more options for disabled children to be involved, with more ramps, paths and rubberized surfacing throughout.

Every park board playground in the city meets requirements set by the Americans with Disabilities Act, but universally accessible play areas have far more features – at least 70 percent – designed for use by disabled children.

The second playground, located near the band shell at the North Plateau, underwent renovations to create a safer environment for children, while complementing existing equipment. Built in 1906, it was one of the first sites to receive swings and a merry-go-round in the park system, according to a park board press release.

Grand opening ceremonies for the play areas included a ribbon cutting at North Plateau with activities, snacks and dedication speakers to follow at Wabun. A commissioned dance is set to close the festivities.

Wabun play area was designed to mirror its Auto Tourist Camp roots, which was once located at the site. The playground boasts a 1930’s-inspired play car and camper, as well as tents and “cabin-like” spaces. Other features include sand play and a quieter space surrounded by a sensory garden.

Volunteer committee Falls 4 All helped raise more than $450,000 through grants, donations and fundraisers to help build the universal play area. Other funding for the projects was provided the Parks and Trails Fund, as well as a host of other agencies.

Northeast's cycling museum open Sunday

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: July 25, 2014 - 6:16 PM

When Brent Fuqua moved the expanding bike shop he co-owns into a newly refurbished storefront across Central Avenue last summer, he suddenly had thousands of square feet in which to stash the bikes the business had stored in rented garages across northeast Minneapolis.

That new space included a big second floor. Meanwhile a buddy, Juston Anderson, had accumulated somewhere between 40 and 50 vintage bikes in 27 years of collecting.

“I thought people should see these bikes,” Fuqua said.

So during Sunday’s Open Streets event, in which bikers will take over 8-1/2 blocks of Central for six hours, the Cycling Museum of Minnesota will debut in the upstairs of Recovery Bike Shop, 2504 Central Av. NE.

From 19th century boneshakers, including one with a 60-inch drive wheel, to trendy Pusgley fat-tire bikes, cyclists will get a glimpse of cycling history that highlights important advances in biking from technology to alliances with good roads boosters to changing social mores. They’ll see those how changes affected bike safety and speed.

It’s a coming-out party for the museum, which organizers say is only in the formative stages and won’t be open regularly until sometime next year. “It was just a bunch of dudes with bikes,” Fuqua told a sneak

preview Thursday night that was intended to elicit interest and funds from an invitee list that dressed from cutoffs to suits.

The organization’s nine-member board has incorporated and plans to put on educational programs, conduct community rides, host family events, present lectures and show films.

The collection includes beginner bikes for kids, BMX bikes, mass-produced bikes by Sears, hand-made frames by some of the state’s noted builder, bikes on which some of the state’s best-known racers sped, and vintage machines such as a locally made tandem designed for courting couples.

But there are also prosaic bike collectibles, such as the 1950s prototype of a Park Tool Co. bike repair stand.  It features such parts as a concrete-filled World War II shell casing, kitchen table legs and a 1937 Ford truck axle.

Anderson, 42, of Arden Hills, remembers looking at pictures as a kid of the high-wheeled bikes that dominated the 1880s but were typically affordable only to wealthy young men with strong legs. “I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know how you could balance on something like that,’” he said. But earlier this month he completed a century (100-mile) ride on one at a collectors meeting.

The nursing home janitor said he takes a frugal approach to collecting. He said he reminds his wife: “There’s other hobbies I could get into. I could get into hunting or gambling or drinking.”     

(Above: Recovery Bike co-owner with a bike that mimicked automobile streamlining; below: an 1897 courting tandem made by Deere and Webber of Minneapolis.)

Touching up Andersen United's image

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: July 21, 2014 - 4:58 PM

MPLS figured anyone out painting her school’s name in Monday’s brutal 91-degree heat deserves a shoutout.

Jena McDermott, an AmeriCorps volunteer at Andersen United Community School in the Phillips community, sent the kids inside due to the heat.  But she remained outside.  “I’m a perfectionist,” she said.

McDermott works with kids in an after-school sports and arts program, who decided to paint the bricks spelling out “Andersen” in rainbow colors.  The bricks previously were all-white.

Park Board sets 4.9 percent levy hike goal

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: July 16, 2014 - 7:37 PM

Minneapolis park commissioners set a goal Wednesday night of achieving a 4.9 percent increase in the parks levy for 2015.

Four percent of that levy increase would be for normal operating and capital purposes, while .9 percent would continue the tree replacement program the board began this year.

The direction to Supt, Jayne Miller followed a debate over whether a 2 or 4 percent levy increase was more realistic, given that the city's levy is slated to rise by 2 percent in its five-year financial plan.  Mayor Betsy Hodges has not yet made a levy recommendation for 2015.

Some commissioners questioned whether a 4.9 percent increase is politically realistic. But Miller already has projected that with a 2 percent increase the Park Board faces a $1.3 million budget gap just to maintain current programs. The board raised its 2014 levy by 2 percent, but devoted all of the increase to beginning a multi-year program to remove and replace trees damaged by storms or the emerald ash borer.

The board also seeks added money to repair neighborhood parks, where Miller said a dearth of maintenance funds has increased the cost of replacing mechanical systems once they fail. The board directed her to devise a strategy to fund those needs.

The overall city levy, which includes separate city and park levies proposed by different governing bodies, will be set by the Board of Estimate and Taxation, on which the Park Board holds one seat.

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